Touch down in Nairobi, only to quickly leave the metropolis behind you. Upon clearing customs and collecting your baggage, you will depart from the city immediately with a guide, traveling east towards Tsavo West National Park. Landscapes progress from urban to farmland to volcanic as you approach this remote corner of Kenya, where your African adventure will excitedly begin! Crossing into the park, you will drive towards the Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, a stunning stone-built lodge that blends seamlessly into the volcanic surroundings. This park is home to the world’s youngest volcanic range – the Chyulu Hills – and it will be a fascinating first site of exploration. Though the park does not evoke images of that quintessential African landscape, your day here will reveal some of the continent’s diversity in ecosystems and species.
You will be welcomed to Tsavo West and Kilaguni with a fresh lunch served in the open air-dining room, with Kilimanjaro looming in the distance. Take a few moments to relax and unwind poolside, or with a massage, before setting out with a guide on your first African game drive! While this park is a Big Five destination, it is most famous for its thriving hippo population, best viewed at Mzima Springs. Here, four shallow pools are connected by rushing rapids fed by the Chyulu Hills. Frozen lava ledges and jagged peaks surround the area, with a shade forest perfect for hiking. Waters here are perfectly clear, allowing you to peer beneath the surface watching as hippos bob and crocodiles swim. The pools even have an underwater viewing chamber for a better perspective on this underwater landscape. As the sun begins to sink over the serrated horizon, drive back towards the lodge arriving in time for cocktails, appetizers, and a freshly made dinner. Today will have been a long and adrenaline filled day, and you will likely be keen to retire to your luxury suite early, in preparation for the days ahead.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Following a breakfast of fruit, pastries and coffee, you will retrace your steps westwards moving into the shadow of Kilimanjaro. You will drive back through the Chyulu Hills and thick montane forests, eventually reaching the perimeter of Amboseli National Park. Here, vast plains sprawl out beneath the snow-capped peak of the tallest mountain in Africa, while enormous herds of elephants gracefully roam the horizon. Lush and magical, game drives through Amboseli are a perfect complement to yesterday’s time spent in Tsavo West. You will arrive at the Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge around midday, again with time for lunch and relaxation before embarking on adventures through this picturesque landscape.
It is ideal to begin your adventures in the late afternoon, when the bush livens as the midday heat lessens. During this time, lions, leopards and gazelle emerge from their shaded afternoon spots in search of greener pastures and evening meals. Drive slowly across the plains and between the glacial fed streams as you move towards the park’s central lake. Pop into a hide that overlooks the watering hole, where you can watch the afternoon activity from this unnoticed vantage point. Though Amboseli is one of Kenya’s more popular parks, moments in this hide and in other secluded areas found by your expert guide, will help to create a sense of exclusivity and independence. As daylight begins to dwindle, head towards Observation Hill for a cocktail overlooking the park as the sky transforms around this iconic landscape. Return to the lodge in the early evening, where you will be met with a locally inspired meal, with views of the uninterrupted starry night sky. Spend a few final moments tonight around the fire before retiring to your Masai-inspired private suite in the heart of the bush.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Wake to a full English breakfast served in the dining area surrounded by water gardens. Enjoy a final cup of coffee while gazing out onto ‘Kili’ before returning to your private vehicle. This morning you will travel north towards Kenya’s largest mountain – Mount Kenya. Landscapes will again shift dramatically as you move north towards the equator, pausing for a photo as you straddle the actual line. Drive into the shadow of the mountain as you approach the Serena Mountain Lodge, located on the lush and tangled jungle slopes. At this higher altitude, the temperatures drop and the air becomes markedly fresher, signaling your entrance into a third region of Kenya.
Having spent much of the first two days on game drives and in the vehicle, this afternoon will be the perfect time to stretch your legs on gentle hikes around the property. Lodge guides will gladly take you around the numerous trails that depart from the main lodge, leading you to streams, waterfalls and forests. Be sure to hike with a pair of binoculars, since the birdlife on this mountain is plentiful. If, however, your body craves some rest and relaxation, set yourself up on one of the lodge’s main decks, which overlook the local watering hole and salt lick. This spot frequently attracts populations of elephant and buffalo, who happily spend hours drinking water and scratching for salt. At night, the lodge casts a spotlight over this hole, giving you a unique look into the nocturnal world.
As the day draws to a close, wander up to the rooftop patio for a delicious candlelit dinner. Full and sleepy, retire to your private log cabin where you can enjoy a final aperitif on your private porch with great views of the watering hole and the moonlit mountain peak. Fall asleep to the calls of the jungle as a fresh breeze blows through.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We would strongly recommend an early start to the morning in order to catch a phenomenal sunrise over the tip of Mount Kenya. With coffee in hand, sit on your porch watching as the the sky lights up as the sun slowly climbs over the peak. Enjoy breakfast on the lodge terrace before returning to the truck that will drive you to the floor of the Great Rift Valley. Over the course of a couple hours, you will move through the plateaus and to the valley floor, which ultimately connects Mozambique to Syria. This valley is characterized by the series of alkaline lakes that fill the bottom, with Lake Nakuru standing among the most famed and beautiful. Entering the park, you will immediately encounter a wall of cotton-candy pink flamingos, busily feasting on the algae that thrives in these otherwise inhospitable waters. Walk and drive along the perimeter of the lake, as pelicans fly overhead alongside a host of other migratory birds.
Though the lake makes up a third of the park’s surface area, the lakeshore and surrounding woodlands are home to some fascinating and endangered species. Lake Nakuru National Park was in fact one of the first conservation areas for black and white rhinos, and today it has one of the strongest populations on the continent. Given this era of unprecedented rhino poaching, this park has become an enormous success story – and beacon of hope. A tour around the perimeter of the lake will inevitably bring you within feet of one of these gentle giants, who are often found relaxing in the shade of an acacia tree. Hyenas, baboons and buffalo are also frequently spotted in this calming environment. Spend the afternoon quietly exploring the valley floor before driving up to a rocky outcropping in the woodlands for another stunning sundowner location.
Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner
Today, excitement builds as you depart Lake Nakuru for the climax of your Kenyan adventure: safaris through the Masai Mara. This reserve is undoubtedly the country’s most precious wildlife sanctuary, and certainly sits among the most famed national parks on the continent. Make your way out of the Rift Valley, through the Masai heartland, and towards the sprawling plains and grassy hills of the Mara. Arriving midday, you will again sink into that familiar rhythm of the first days of the trip where you have time for lunch and relaxation before venturing out from the lodge grounds.
On a late afternoon safari, you will have ample opportunities to search for Africa’s Big Five. Hunters named this group in reference to their high level of danger and elusiveness. Today, however, the buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant and rhino, stand among the most coveted sightings in the bush. While ever impressive, these species exist alongside a plethora of other unique creatures, equally as wonderful to see. Giraffes are often seen peaking their heads out of acacia treetops, while families of warthogs scuttle beneath their legs. Guides will provide plenty of information on some of the lesser-known residents of the Mara, ensuring that this afternoon’s safari goes far beyond straight sightseeing.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today is the much anticipated day which will be spent entirely amongst the Great Wildebeest Migration. Set out in your private vehicle in the early morning, with a packed picnic lunch. The day will begin as you head southwards towards the shared border with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Reserve. Snake along the dusty trails that course through the park, seeking out quiet corners and close wildlife encounters. Look to the skies as the day livens, and note just how expansive the sky looks over the endless plains below. Continue with your hunt for the Big Five and your lessons about the bush, until you find yourself in the heart of the Great Migration. The size and prevalence of the herds of wildebeest, zebra and impala will grow exponentially as you move south, until you eventually find yourself at the epicenter. Surrounded by two million migrating ungulates, this annual phenomenon is heralded as one of the greatest natural spectacles on earth. It is the single largest migration of mammals on the planet, and its enormity is near indescribable.
By midday, you will likely find yourself on the banks of the Mara River, made famous by images of wildebeest hurtling through crocodile infested waters. A lucky few may get to watch this precarious endeavor first hand, while others will simply spend time watching hippos and crocodiles bob in the water. Find a shaded picnic spot for lunch – keeping a watchful eye on the vervet monkeys who look on greedily. The remainder of the day will be spent exploring these incredible plains, seeking out the species you love the most. If interested, it is also possible to spend a portion of this final afternoon exploring a local Masai community, learning of their culture and history. Local villages scattered throughout the park often have plenty of handicrafts and beadwork for sale, making for some great souvenir shopping in the heart of the bush. They also typically perform a cultural performance for visitors, which highlight their sensational jumping abilities. Today will ultimately be entirely customizable, but it's important that you spend it exactly as you wish.
Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast
This morning you will begin your journey back towards the capital, after a final breakfast overlooking the Masai Mara. Drive through the Masai heartland, and watch as the landscape shifts from bush to farmland, to ultimately, an urban landscape. You will reach Nairobi midday, which should leave just enough time for a meal at Carnivore, one of Africa’s most famous restaurants. Here, you will have the chance to sample virtually every style of bush meat available, beginning with warthog and ending with crocodile. Once you are completely full and incredibly well versed on the tastes of African meat, your driver will return you to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for your outbound departure. At this point, you will have the choice of either returning home or perhaps adding on just a few more tailor-made days on the coast.
This tour begins in the eastern corner of Kenya, amidst the planet’s newest volcano range. Explore the jagged peaks of Tsavo West and the Chyulu Hills, pausing to sit beside a bubbling spring filled with hippos and crocodiles. From here, journey into the shadow of the highest peak in Africa as you enter Amboseli National Park. With Mount Kilimanjaro acting as a picturesque backdrop for safaris, seek out close encounters with some of Africa’s largest elephants on the expansive and tranquil plains.
From Amboseli, drive into the shadow of the continent’s second highest peak: Mount Kenya. Spend a day quietly walking the forested slopes from a wooded mountain retreat. Elephants and buffalo frequently come within feet of the lodge deck, in search of salt and water at the resident watering hole. From here, descend from the highlands to the floor of the Great Rift Valley to explore the flamingo-fringed shores of Lake Nakuru. Drive along the floodplains and through the woodlands in search of one of the continent’s surviving rhino populations.
The adventure concludes on the infamous and majestic plains of the Masai Mara. The final days of this tour will be spent in pursuit of intimate wildlife encounters as you follow dusty trails across the savanna. If timed correctly, you will easily find yourself within the heart of the Great Wildebeest Migration, one of the world’s most remarkable natural spectacles. Carnivores often escort the two million ungulates, creating a number of thrilling and unbelievable wildlife spotting. Days amidst it all will make for the ultimate climax to this Kenyan safari vacation.
Ideal Travel Months
This tour through Kenya covers a number of different parks in hopes of providing you with the best wildlife viewing opportunities possible. Wildlife is most easily seen between the months of August and November, as well as January and March, when the bush is less dense and wildlife tends to congregate around fewer watering holes.
The tour spends only a single full day in the Masai Mara, meaning that the Great Wildebeest Migration is not designed to be a focal point of the tour. If however you do wish to see this spectacle, aim to visit between the months of August and November. Be aware that crowds are highest during these months.
Related information: Zicasso offers a variety of safaris. You may want to browse reviews for Kenyan safaris from real travelers about their customized experience.
$3145 per person (excluding international flights)
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